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Volunteer Tax Preparers Needed Financial Empowerment Center (FEC) or The Financial Empowerment Center (FEC) takes a comprehensive approach to improve families and individuals lives by connecting them with the tools and services that help reach both short-term and long-term financial goals. The (FEC) bridges the information gap separating low-income families from achieving financial access through tax credits and other essential services that remain untapped and inaccessible.

These basic resources increase opportunities for families to maintain more financial stability and a better quality of life. Since its inception in August of 2008, the Financial Empowerment Center has delivered millions of dollars in savings and benefits to thousands of households.

Since the inception of FEC, over $10 million has returned to members of the community. These savings which are used by residents for shopping, gas, and transportation return back to the local communities, thereby revitalizing the local economy.

Due to increased financial hardships, we experienced an increase of residents requiring emergency special services such as: food pantry, rental arrears and utility assistance. Many of these clients were already receiving benefits and/or are not eligible for any other benefits.

To address this issue we created a Financial Counseling Program.  The aim of this program is to teach the skills and techniques needed to manage and save money. In addition, clients learn skills in investing and financial success.

Find out more information: Call us today. The following are a list of services that the FEC provides to people in the community:

* Free benefits screening and help with claiming food charge cards and vouchers, child care assistances, tax credits & health care.

* Free on site referrals to family counseling for help addressing problems, including domestic violence, substance abuse and mental health care.

* Free tax preparation and filing which is professional and simple.

* Free financial counseling with one-on-one sessions with a trained professional on credit score and reporting issues, debt, budget management and savings strategies.

* Free Financial Literacy & Credit related workshops.

* Access to our Individual Development Account (IDA) program where we match a client’s savings on a 2 to 1 basis. The money can be used for asset building in one of the following areas: higher education, homeownership, or starting a new business or expanding an existing one (eligibility is based on income).

* Access to reduced prices for medical prescriptions and in some cases free prescriptions for those who qualify through our Newark Rx Program.

* Free legal counseling concerning housing and tenant issues.

* Free Application for Federal Student Aid Coaching – Financial Aid U: At Newark Now’s VITA Sites we can help those interested in attending college with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). We also assist with other issues related to college access including school selection and college applications.

Since 2010, over 500 students have benefited from these FAFSA preparation workshops. These workshops provide students with valuable information and guidance on how to properly fill out the FAFSA forms.

Some students are unaware of resources that can become available if the student files the FAFSA including Pell Grant, State Tuition Aid Grant (TAG), institutional aid from colleges, and many scholarships that require FAFSA to be prepared first.

Many of Newark Now’s tax clients do not realize that they may be eligible to go to school for free if they applied for financial aid through the FAFSA. Many of our tax clients whose income is solely from unemployment may qualify for the full Pell Grant and the TAG because they would qualify as a dislocated worker.

We are now conducting workshops at local high schools. In addition, students are still receiving follow up services at our Financial Empowerment Center. These follow up services include additional assistance with FAFSA, college applications, preparing a budget for college, explaining Financial Aid awards,   explaining student loan offers. We have been focused on following up with those clients that we assisted with the FAFSA or other college access issues. We continue to assist students with the FAFSA for Federal Pell Grant; however the deadline for State (NJ) Aid has passed.

For additional information, please contact fec@newarknow.org